Introduction to A.P.
AP gives students an opportunity to take college-level courses and exams while still in high school. There are 33 courses in 19 subject areas, offered by 13,000 secondary schools around the world; in 2000, 1.2 million exams were taken by 750,000 students. Students enjoy the challenge of taking AP courses with enthusiastic classmates and teachers; high school faculty find that AP courses enhance their students' confidence and academic interest as well as their school's reputation; and college faculty report that AP students are far better prepared for serious academic work.
How Valuable is AP?
"I'm not sure how well I would do in an AP course or exam. Even if I did get a good grade, I'm not sure that I would use it. So why should I get involved with AP?" This is a common concern of high school students who are considering which courses to take in their upcoming academic years. However, there are numerous benefits to be gained from taking AP, some of which are described below. Remember that you risk nothing by taking the AP Exam, since you determine which colleges, if any, will receive your grade.
You'll study a subject in greater depth . . .
If you are interested in a particular subject and want to learn more about it with classmates who are just as enthusiastic, your best bet is to take an AP course.
If you don't challenge yourself, you'll never know what you're capable of achieving. If you take an AP course and work hard for nine months, taking the exam completes the picture. If you don't take the exam, you might always wonder how well you could have done. Prove to yourself that you have mastered college-level material, and discover the satisfaction of reaching your goal.
Students who are unsure about future plans say that AP has helped to steer them toward college or advanced studies. Take, for example, the experiences of one AP student who is profiled in the AP Studio Art Gallery. She said that taking AP Studio Art made her realize that she wanted to study design at college; it gave her both the time and the means to explore color and design in great depth, as well as to research the work of other artists. She is currently studying fine arts which, combined with the economics and business courses she is also taking, should stand her in good stead for the career in advertising she has set her heart on.
AP courses and exams represent the beginning of the journey through college-level academic challenges. Once you're used to being challenged you're more likely to continue with advanced studies (AP students are twice as likely to go into Ph.D. programs).
AP is not just a test; it's an experience.
AP courses motivate you to work hard, and you can improve the quality of all your courses based on the skills you gain in one AP course. The work you do in an AP course will help you develop skills and study habits that will be vital in college. For example, you will learn how to analyze problems effectively, improve your writing skills, and prepare for exams. These are tools that will serve you well throughout your college career.
Students who take AP courses and exams are more knowledgeable about the demands of college work. Colleges and universities recognize that applicants with AP experience are much better prepared for the demands of college courses. Admissions officers are well aware of the difficulty of AP courses and exams, and sending them your AP Exam grades can only be a positive step toward potential admission into competitive colleges.
You never know what the future holds. Plans change, career choices change, family circumstances change, usually when you least expect it. Once you have taken an AP Exam, your grade is a permanent part of your transcript. The vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States, and many outside the United States, grant either academic credit, advanced placement, or both, to incoming students with qualifying AP grades.
As we all know, money doesn't grow on trees, and it is important to think ahead. By taking an AP Exam, you will be investing in yourself and your future. If you receive a qualifying grade on an AP Exam, your $77 exam fee investment can translate into major savings. A course credit at a state university such as Georgia Tech can be worth about $300, and at the University of Pennsylvania, for example, you will save approximately $3,000.
You'll get good value for your money . . .
The cost of an AP Exam is a concern for some students. But put this into perspective - how much do you spend on the latest video game, or a couple of compact discs? Given how hard you work in and out of school, isn't it time you put something into yourself and your future?
Gaining credit or advanced standing in college can give you time for other interests that you might not have otherwise been able to pursue; for example, time abroad, extra classes, independent studies. This is the fun stuff that most college students just don't have the time or money to do.
Every year, hundreds of students achieve sophomore standing by earning enough qualifying AP grades: more than 1,400 institutions in the United States alone grant a full year's credit to students who present satisfactory grades on enough AP Exams. Write to the colleges you are interested in attending to get the most up-to-date information about their AP policies.
Earning AP credit has allowed thousands of students to take a double major in college, move into upper-level courses in their field of interest, or complete their undergraduate degrees in less than four years.
You'll improve your self-esteem . . .
By succeeding in an AP course and exam, you will know in advance that you have the ability to succeed in college. Students who have this confidence are less likely to go for the easy options at college, and are more likely to specialize in majors with tougher grading standards. They are also more likely to take a greater course load and complete a greater number of higher-level courses. Students who succeed academically are likely to achieve other significant accomplishments in college and throughout their lives.
Many students say that their AP experiences made them look at things differently. For example, working with a dedicated AP teacher can be a great influence on you both personally and in your scholastic development. Also, working with other students who are "going for it" can be extremely stimulating. Some AP students feel that AP gave them a leg up, providing opportunities that would not otherwise have come their way.
The AP Program offers a number of Scholar Awards to AP students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement. Although there is no monetary award, an acknowledgement of this achievement appears on the student's AP transcript. Scholar Award recipients not only gain recognition from colleges, but also win the admiration of their peers, families, and communities.